Hyperemesis and Preterm Labor

This stubborn little child. He had his own agenda from the day he was conceived. I dreamed a pretty easy pregnancy like with Jack. Some nausea, acid reflux, and low blood pressure issues again. But nothing too crazy. I also wanted a very active pregnancy this time. I wanted to hike everyday with Jack and get my body as strong as possible. I envisioned going into labor on a trail somewhere….

…but nope. It started with bad hyperemesis right away. Followed by a stomach bug. Then migraines. Then worse hyperemesis. Then a UTI. Then even worse hyperemesis. Then vaginosis. Then the irritable uterus started up. Even worse hyperemesis. Horrible allergic reaction. Pulled a groin muscle and couldn’t walk. And then the throwing up acid at night from the worst acid reflux in my life.

IMG_6227
35 weeks
By the time I went to my 35 week midwife appointment, my body was exhausted. I was happy to have made it so far with a very healthy baby—my rainbow baby.  My midwife asked how I was doing, I answered “I am coughing up acid at night, I’m having a TON of Braxton-Hicks, I can’t eat much food because everything is so squished, I feel faint because I can’t eat or drink enough, and I can’t sleep at night. But overall, good.” She nodded, she knew I was exhausted. Then she said the good news—she did not believe I would go to my due date and I just had to deal with a few more weeks. This was Monday. After that Saturday, I would be 36 weeks, the legal gestational age to give birth in a birthing center in Oregon. I went home and planned on just sitting around relaxing until my appointment next week.

That Thursday, Jack had a playdate at a nearby park. Towards the end I got really tired. So we said goodbye a few minutes early and left. A few minutes later, it happened…

The worst thing that happened my whole pregnancy so far. I puked ALL over my car. Projectile vomited without warning when I stopped at a stop sign. And continued for 30 seconds. I couldn’t open the door or window, it just kept coming. When I finally stopped, a car had pulled up behind me so I had to go. Jack started laughing hysterically, “Mommy threw up! Mommy you are so silly!” I started crying and called my mom over the car speaker. I told her I was pulling up right now and I needed her help. I puked all over my car.

She sent me inside and told me to get cleaned up. She put Jack inside and cleaned my car.  I showered and laid down in bed. I kept throwing up every 30 minutes or so. I couldn’t keep anything down. A few hours later, I called my midwife. She told me to come up to be rehydrated. Michael picked me up and my mom watched Jack.

I threw up again when we got there. I was so dehydrated they once again couldn’t get a vein on me. The midwives are trained medical professionals, they knew what to do. But I am a hard stick even hydrated. So they started a rectal IV. But it started to kick up my Braxton-Hicks into real contractions so they quickly stopped it. I threw up several more times and was started to get very upset.

At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
At the birth center, starting to get very worried.
My midwife talked with the other midwives, and they decided it was time to transfer me to a hospital. I was still 35 weeks so I could not give birth there if it was the real deal. And if it was just dehydration, I needed IV fluids quickly to stop preterm labor. I was scared, but I understood.

A little while later I was in a wheelchair in Labor and Delivery at OHSU. As they took me to triage, I looked into all the delivery rooms and started to panic a little. This was not what I wanted. Why are you doing this to us, Bear? We could be at a wonderful birthing center of you could just wait a week or so!

Then I threw-up again and I knew this where we needed to be. My body needed helped. The nurse saw all needle pokes on my arms from the birth center and knew right away she needed to get the most experienced nurse possible. She brought in a 20+ year NICU/OB nurse who can get veins on 1 lbs premature babies. It still took her 3 tries. I really am that hard of a stick.

Stay in!!
Stay in!!
I was so happy once I could feel the fluid in my veins. They quickly gave me a Zofran shot and a Reglan shot for nausea. Then the OB came in. She checked my cervix , I was 3 cm. I was 1 at the birthing center three hours ago so this worried me. She also did a quick ultrasound, she said baby looked great, but was totally head down and engaged. She said they would not stop my labor if I continued to progress, but she hoped it would stop on its own once in hydrated. For that reason, the doctor suggested a Betamethasone shot. It is a steroid that helps develop baby’s lungs quickly. She explained all her reasons and the possible side effects, which I greatly appreciated. I felt very very respected and greatly appreciated her taking the time to inform me. As a result, I was not upset when they admitted me for the night for monitoring and continued fluids.

I threw up a few more times, so they gave me more medicine. Also, she added some acid reflux medicine because all that puking was triggering a major reflux attack. And this whole time I was having consistent, steady contractions. But they didn’t hurt, felt slightly stronger than the Braxton-Hicks/cramps I’ve had since 20 weeks. Then they gave me some medicine to help me sleep and I was out! Like didn’t even notice the nurse coming in a few hours later to change my IV bag and take my vitals kind of out.

IMG_6274The doctor woke me up at 6 AM before her shift ended to check me again. I hoped it was all good and I could leave in a few hours…but nope. My stubborn, stubborn child had other plans. I lost a huge chunk of my mucus plug overnight. And I dilated another centimeter and thinned out a tiny bit more. So I needed to stay for at least a few more hours and probably the night again. Good news was the doctor decided this was probably not a stomach virus or true labor. It was probably just my hyperemesis causing dehydration contractions (if you can call that good news). Actual good news was I hadn’t thrown up for several hours and I wanted breakfast! And I eat my entire breakfast and kept it down! Same with my lunch and dinner. I had horrible acid reflux and it took several medications to keep the acid from creeping up though. But I will take that over projectile vomiting any day.

A new OB checked me shortly before dinner and had more good news. I had not progressed, and my contractions had slowed and spaced out. They took me off the monitor and gave me instructions to let them know immediately if my contractions got worse. And they stopped my IV and told me to drink all that I could to stay hydrated. But, they wanted to keep me one more night just to be safe and give me the second dose of steroid shot for his lungs. My body was still exhausted so I didn’t argue. Everyone had treated me with such respect and honesty that I would not be upset if I had to deliver there. A much different hospital experience than with Jack.

Happy to be released!
Happy to be released!
They gave me more medicine to sleep and I was knocked out again. In the morning I got the best news, no more progression or change in contractions, so I was going home! She said I was really not likely to make it to my due date, but I would be more comfortable waiting for labor at home if I am not actively progressing. It was Saturday now, I was 36 weeks. So I asked if I could still deliver at my birth center birth like I planned. Without hesitation she said yes! As long as I listen to my midwife and no other complications arise, there was no reason why I couldn’t. I was so happy!

They released me quickly and we stopped for lunch on the way home (which I ate and kept down!). Jack was so happy to see us. He jumped on my lap and snuggled with me on the couch watching TV for a long time. This whole pregnancy was hard on him, too.

I planned on laying around for the next week or so, giving Bear a bit more time to cook. But he had other plans. Check out my next post for his birth story.

My Third Trimester

I can’t tell you how happy I am to no longer be pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally in love with my son and so happy to have him. But I hated being pregnant. And I think the third trimester was the worst by far. Now it’s all over so I thought I would share some advice like I did for my First Trimester and Second Trimester.

Things I would do again:

Taking Zantac: My acid reflux kept getting worse and worse. First it was just spicy foods at made it act up. Then it was acidic foods. Then it was the amount of food. Then it was practically every food. Then I started waking up in the middle of the night to throw up acid. I had a prop myself up with pillows and wedges, and only lay on my left side to just be comfortable to even think of falling asleep. I wasn’t losing weight but I hadn’t gained any weight in 2 weeks at my 34 week appointment. So my OB/GYN said I could take Zantac daily. It wasn’t complete relief, more like 50% better. But it was so bad that something was better than nothing. I could eat smaller, bland meals without throwing them up most days.

Walking Everyday: My husband and I work for the same company, so everyday we went for walks on our breaks. Just around the building. It was great exercise and time for us to chat about the baby. Plus neither of us have windows at our desks, so it was nice to have some sunshine. I really think daily walks helped Jack turn downward and get into position for labor.

Prenatal Massage: My mom got me another prenatal massage when I was 37 weeks. Oh boy, did I need one! The way I had to lay at night to be comfortable put a lot of pressure on my hips. And I was starting to have braxton-hicks contractions in my back. It was so nice to just lay on the table for an hour and have all the pain melt away. If I had the money, I would have gotten a massage every week while pregnant.

Going On Leave Early: In my maternity leave post, I mentioned my original plan was to work up until I went into labor. But Jack was measuring big and I was uncomfortable that I decided it was for the best to go on leave earlier. So I set-up to go on leave at 38 weeks, but then at 36 weeks couldn’t take much more. I went on leave at 37 weeks and it was probably the best decision of my whole pregnancy. I rested up a bit and got to focus on preparing for labor—and considering how fast my labor went, this was very helpful. I am so glad I listened to my body.

Things I would do differently:

Eating Out So Much: I don’t mean in terms of calories and weight gain. I had such bad acid reflux I was lucky if got more than just breakfast down most days and barely gained 6 pounds my last trimester. What I do mean is that I was just crabby and nothing sounded good most days. The acid reflux left a weird taste in my mouth that ruined most of my favorite foods. And my stomach was just so squished that I had little room for food. I could fit in a very small meal at best. So I figured since I was so miserable I should just eat whatever I wanted. And I didn’t want to cook so this mean take-out. I still ate pretty healthy so it was not that big of a deal. But it would have been nice to save that money

More Baths: I loved taking a nice Epsom salt bath in the evening to relax and relax my muscles. A little nice music and same candles too.  I wouldn’t have the water that hot and had a glass of ice water with me so I didn’t overheat. I have no idea why I didn’t take one every night! One night I was really crappy and Michael pretty much put me in the tub to calm me down. Next baby, I will just make this a nightly ritual from the start.

More Sleep: Between the hip pain, acid reflux, and the over 8 pound baby squishing all my organs, I got very little sleep. I also started having Braxton-Hicks and cramps at night. A few night a week I would end up on the couch. Not because it was more comfortable, but to let Michael sleep without my tossing and turning. Even on maternity leave I didn’t get much sleep–which totally came back to bite me in the ass for labor. I was so tired that I didn’t have the strength and patiences to do my all natural birth plan. I needed an epidural to calm me down enough to push. I really wish I was more well-rested. I am not sure how I could have accomplished this–besides taking serious sleep medication–but it’s my own regret my whole pregnancy so far.

The thing I am not sure about:

Support Belt: My back started to hurt sitting at my desk at work. So Michael got me a support belt. It did relieve the back pain. And took some of the pressure of my belly off my pelvis and bladder. But it dug into my back side when I sat down. And if I moved from side to side too much, it would unvelcro itself. And was a bit impractical to put over clothes sometimes and look weird under clothes. I ended up only using it when I was going to be walking around a lot, like for our Babymoon. Not sure it was worth the money.

Jack’s Birth Story: What To Do When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Work Out

I was going to do update last week about how my maternity leave is going but…I had my baby!

At 39 weeks and 4 days along, bright and early in the morning, Jack made his entrance into this world. My labor and delivery did not go as I had planned, but it ended up all working out. All that matters is Jack and I are both safe and healthy. AND that my wishes were respected all along. Birth trauma is a real, serious issue. If you feel you were disrespected or even harmed during your birth, speak out and get help! Some links are listed below. I am referring to when thinks don’t go according to plan due to natural circumstances.

I had made a birth plan on babycenter.com and was pretty intent on sticking to it. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. I wanted to try for an unmedicated, natural birth. I wanted to be free to move about and labor in any position I wanted if possible. I wanted to be able to push in any position possible too. I only wanted an episiotomy if I was not tearing cleanly. I wanted only Michael present in the delivery room and for him to cut the cord. I also wanted to breastfeed as soon as possible.
Out of that list, only the last two sentence came true.
That Monday I had been a little extra crampy. My mom said that was a good thing and her labors started that way. Random braxton-hicks would start up, then die out. Overall I knew my body was getting ready for labor but I didn’t think too much of it. I was looking for the timable contractions.
That night I was up administering Spring recruitment for my sorority online until about 11 PM. I had to sit up on the couch because my cramps bothered me more laying down. I thought about walking around the house to get them to turn into contractions, but was too exhausted. I went to bed. Oddly enough, Michael was exhausted that day too. He came home from work and took a 3 hour nap randomly. My mom joked he subconsciously knew he would be up soon to take me to the hospital.
I woke up around 1:30 AM because my cramps were suddenly horrible. Then I felt something wet, I assumed I peed a little. So I went to the bathroom and the minute I sat on the toilet a small gush of clear liquid came out. I put on a new pad and decided if I soaked the pad again quickly, it was for sure my water. I woke up Michael and as I was telling him I noticed I had already soaked the pad. So he jumped out of bed and I woke my mom to tell her we were off to the hospital. I went to the car and I started having contractions as soon as I sat down. Four minutes apart and lasting 1 minutes instantly. I slowly leaked amniotic fluid with each one too. I am so glad I grabbed a towel to sit on so I didn’t ruin my car.

We got the hospital in only 15 minutes. There is no traffic in the Bay Area at 2 AM luckily. If it had been rush hour, it could have taken an hour. Also luckily, there was no one else going into labor when I got there so I was taken back to be checked quickly.

The triage nurse had me do the standard pee in a cup, take your vitals, and get hooked up to the monitor. All while my pain is getting more and more intense, and I am leaking more and more fluid. The nurse did a swab to confirm water broke and then got the doctor. The doctor checked my cervix, I was at 2 cm. Then they told me I would be admitted shortly.

Here is where my birth plan went totally out the window. I was already in a lot of pain and knew there was no way this was going to take long. And I was still exhausted as I only had 2 hours of sleep. I also started to throw up a bit too. So when the nurse asked if I wanted to go ahead with the epidural paperwork, I instantly said yes. It took an hour get my admitting paperwork, the epidural paperwork (both of which Michael signed because I was already kind of out of it from the pain), and draw my blood. In the mean time, they gave me shot of pain medicine and Zofran for the nausea in my IV. I was very grateful to say the least.

The only labor picture I let Michael take.

The doctor came back to check me and I was now 4 cm. She quickly got me to a room since I progressed so fast. My bloodwork was still not processed yet so I still couldn’t have my epidural. I was crying for it at this point, and I mean seriously crying. I asked for another pain medicine shot since the first was wearing off, but they were having a hard time picking up Jack on the monitor. I couldn’t have another until they could track him better. They wanted me to lay on my back to pick him up better, but that was SO uncomfortable I couldn’t do it. I wanted to sit up or stand, but they said I couldn’t because of the medicine. Finally they got a good read on him and gave me another shot.

The doctors checked on me again about an hour later and I was at 6 cm already. The nurse kept refreshing her screen for my lab results so I could have my epidural. I was seriously pleading for it at this point. I am not a wimp when it comes to pain at all, but this was something different. It was happening so fast and was so intense.

Another hour went by and I suddenly felt the urge to push. The doctor came in to check me, I was at 9 cm with just a slight lip left. She let me try pushing, but it was not working. I wanted to push on my side, but the doctor said that I needed to be on my back because of the way he was positioned. But it did not help. I was too tired. I did not have the energy. I asked if I could still have the epidural and the doctor said yes. I was elated, I needed to relax and calm down before I could push effectively.

I laid back down and dealt with the contractions for like an 30 minutes. Then suddenly the nurses sat me up and said the anesthesiologist was coming right then. He was squeezing me in quickly. He did everything quickly and efficiently. He gave me only a half dose so I would still feel the pressure to push. The doctor then gave me 10 minutes for everything to kick in and for me to relax. It was a huge relief. I calmed down and actually wanted to push.

I did not get pushing right away. I was pushing into my legs. The nurses kept telling me I need to push into my butt, “Like you need to take the biggest poop of your life!” one kept saying. His head was 1/3 of the way out for the longest time. Then finally—over an hour later— I got the pushing thing right and he started coming out faster.

At this point is when I looked over at Michael. I noticed he was getting a little pale. He doesn’t do that well with blood. He had been holding my leg and encouraging me the whole time though. He was exhausted too and I think it all got to him. The nurses told him to sit down for a minute to recover.

And suddenly, they said Jack was coming out. The doctor told me to keep pushing continuously and Michael to come back over quickly. Then Jack popped out! Just like that. They cleaned his nose and mouth, then put him on my chest. I started crying, I couldn’t believe it.

I can’t even explain the joy I felt.

He was prefect. He looked just like Michael, just in like the ultrasounds. I loved him instantly.

They started a line of Pitocin (which was not on my birth plan either actually) and delivered my placenta. I tore cleanly and naturally, but the doctor did a small episiotomy to give Jack some more room. So she had to stitched me up down there, but I didn’t even notice. I was just mesmerized by Jack.

Then they sat me up a little so I could breastfeed. Jack was rooting and sucking his fist as soon they had put him on my chest so he had very little trouble latching on. Not gonna lie though, it hurt like hell and he did bruise my nipple. But I didn’t mind, I was happy to have that bonding experience.

So, am I upset that Jack came into this world totally not like I planned? No. Not at all.

It would have been nice to have followed my plan, but all I cared about was having a healthy baby. It happened so fast, I was so tired, and I was in so much pain that my plan was not practical. I am glad I made a plan though. I educated myself on giving birth and knew the options open to me. I also knew the possible procedures that could be done so I was not freaked out when they did something new (like the Pitocin).

My advice for any expecting mom is to have a birth plan so you can be your own advocate, but in the end do what your body tells you. My body said it was too tired to handle such an intense and rapid experience on its own. Don’t be upset if your birth reality doesn’t match your birth plan. Just focus on what needs to be done to have a healthy baby.

I will do a post about my postpartum recovery soon. But right now I want to go snuggle my son 🙂

Informed Birth and Birth Trauma Information:

Babymoon On A Budget

I don’t recall how, but a few years ago I first heard the term babymoon. It’s a vacation you take with your spouse before the baby is born to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the baby is born. Similar to a honeymoon right after a wedding. I loved this idea! Taking time to focus on your love and crazy journey you two are about to embark on.

Map of California’s Gold Country.
source

We dreamed of a vacation back to Hawaii where we met, but sadly that was not going to happen. We need something relatively nearby, so we didn’t need to take off work or be too far away from areas we knew if something happen with my pregnancy. We also needed something inexpensive so we could actually afford to buy diapers later on. But still worthwhile so we didn’t feel like we wasted our money. Then it dawned on me we could do that Gold Country trip we have both been dying to do for over a year now.

Big comfy bed, with my maternity pillow.

With a little research, we found a deal on Expedia for mini suite the Hyatt House in Rancho Cordova. The location of the hotel was nothing special, but the room was very nice. The staff was great and the room was well-cleaned. And it was nice so spread out on a plushy king bed!

The couch was really comfy, I did not want to share it with Michael.

All the places in Gold Country we wanted to see were within a reasonable driving distance too. I have no complaints about this hotel and would stay here again if we did another Gold Country trip.

So much fun to get all dressed up for once! Dress from Old Navy.

We splurged on a fancy dinner one night in Sacramento at Pilothouse and then walked around Old Town afterwards. It was really fun to dress up and feel all pretty for the first time in awhile.

Aren’t we cute? Michael was very happy because
he just ordered his steak dinner.

We kept it simple for food the rest of the trip. Plus, the hotel offered a great breakfast buffet so we saved money on one meal a day. Check out my food blog for reviews on the restaurants.

I don’t know why Michael didn’t zoom
in more, but that’s me and my bump.

On Sunday we checked out Fort Sutter in Sacramento. I loved that this historic site was preserved/restored despite being right in the middle of prime real estate in the city.As we walked into the park, we noticed the State Indian Museum. Michael is a part Native American so he was interested, and I love any kind of history so I was too. The museum is small but has a lot of artifacts and stories. Right when we walked in a docent greeted us and explained some key things. Being from Oregon, I didn’t know much about California Native history so I loved the mini lesson. This little place is worth checking out, only took us an hour to look through. We also found the trickster graphic novel we wanted to buy for our son in the gift shop! I am sorry I don’t have pictures from inside, no photography was allowed.

Inside the Fort, the building in the center
is one of  Sutter’s original structures.

Then we went into Fort Sutter. It is your standard restored pioneer fort. But this fort and John Sutter himself played a very important role in the California Gold Rush. It took us another hour to leisurely stroll through fort.The museum and the fort provided great background information the original Californians and how the Gold Rushers settled once they arrived.

We also stopped by the Capital Building for a little bit, very lovely building and gardens. After that, we had lunch with Michael’s sister who lives just outside Sacramento and ended up hanging out with her the rest of the day. We had planned on going to see stuff around Auburn, but I was tired and decided it was better to take it easy. And we don’t see Kristina that often, so it was nice to catch up.

Lovely drive on Highway 49

The next and last day ended up being kind of busy, but so much fun. We took Highway 49 (which dawned on me afterwards it’s called 49 because of the 1849 Gold Rush….the 49ners…). It is a beautiful drive,  lovely trees and hillsides. Almost made the trip worth it alone.

Our first stop was the Marshal Gold Discovery Park.

My husband likes to point at things…

It’s the site where James Marshall found gold in the American River and started the Gold Rush in 1848.

The spot where Marshal found gold
and change California history

He was building a sawmill for his business partner John Sutter (who needed wood to build Fort Sutter) when he suddenly spotted something flashing in the water.

Replica of Sutter’s sawmill

The park consists of a replica of the original sawmill, some restored/rebuilt homes and business, the visitors center, and easy trails to various important sites (like the site where Marshal found the gold).

And they offer a gold panning lesson with a Park Ranger. It costs an additional $7 fee, but you get to keep anything you find that fits in the vile they give you.

Two big garnets,  a few gold flecks, pyrite,
smokey quartz, and a few other lithic wonders.

We were the only adults without children doing it—and to be honest it probably wasn’t fair for two people with degrees in geology to do it. But it was so much fun! We didn’t find that much gold, but a lot of garnets, pyrite (fool’s gold), and smokey quartz.

It was getting on in the afternoon, but we both still wanted to check out Empire Mine State Historic Park. It was an hour drive, but we didn’t mind since it was so beautiful.

The mining yard with the old equipment on display.

Empire mine was one of the most successful mines in California, operating up until the 1950’s.Though, in the end it had to switch from gold to other rocks and minerals to stay profitable.

This picture doesn’t even come close to showing the depth.

We got there an hour before closing, and sadly missed all the tours. But it was still really cool to see on our own. The main mine shaft was insanely deep and insanely steep from even just the top! It’s crazy to think men went down there everyday to work.

A scale model of the Empire/North Star underground mine system.
People actually worked daily in it!

And it has a huge, elaborate under ground mine system beyond just the entrance shaft.

The mine owner’s cottage, so beautiful.

And the breath-taking cottage and surrounding gardens of mine owner was worth walking my pregnant butt up the hill to see. Shows you the difference even back then between the working and upper class.

Totally how I felt walking down the hall with my swollen legs.
source

That concluded our Gold Country Babymoon. We both really enjoyed the whole trip. The only problem was when I woke up Tuesday morning with legs swollen up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from all the walking we did. I had to call in sick to work because I could hardly move. Guess this pregnant lady had too much fun! However, it was nice to spend some quality time together doing activities we both enjoy. It also made us excited to take Jack to these places when he is old enough. I am totally going to dress him in a flannel shirt, jeans, and boots when he pans for gold. Mommy’s little 49ner!

Want to hear the best part? We did all this for around $400! That’s right a mini-suite, a fancy dinner out, and a good amount of site-seeing without breaking the bank.  Here are my tips on how you can have a fun little babymoon (or any vacation) on a budget.

Babymoon Budget Tips:

  • Don’t do things you can’t actually afford. There is a difference between we could afford it (by maxing out our credit card) and actually affording it (we have enough in our savings or we will pay off the credit card easily in a month or two).
  • Do some research. Try Expedia, Orbitz, Travel Zoo & etc. Don’t just settle for the “best price” listed on one site. Shop around and compare.
  • Consider staying just outside the area you are visiting, if practical, where the hotel rates tend to be cheaper. Just make sure you are not so far away that you waste time/ gas getting around.
  • Take advantage of free things at hotels, like continental breakfasts or breakfast buffets (just make sure you pick healthy options).
  • Look up all the things to do in the area, and prioritize what you really want to do. Sadly you can’t do everything so this allows to budget for the things you would be truly sad if you missed.
  • Not everything needs to cost a lot of money. Consider National Parks, State Parks, smaller museums, or even simple walks or hikes.  Sure, take that $100 white-water rafting trip one day, then maybe the next explore a local historic site for only a $5 donation. If you are going to splurge on a nice meal like we did, try to keep your other meals simple and less expensive. Not every meal needs to be over-the-top. There is no shame in ordering a pizza to your room and watching HBO in your pajamas.
  • Research things to do for free along the way to the expensive places too.
  • Factor in all the little stuff. Admission fees, gas cost to get there, and any trinkets you may buy from the gift shops. These can add up to a lot in the end.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks (very important to have on hand while pregnant), gift shops and little stores charge a lot for even a small bottle of water.
  • Don’t force yourself to stick to a strict schedule if you are tired or not feeling well (especially if it involves walking a lot while pregnant). There is no point in wasting money on gas, admission, food & etc. for something when you will only remember how miserable you were there. You and your baby’s health is more important. And you never know, you may find some totally awesome low-key thing to do that ends up the highlight of your trip.
I would also like to mention the recipe contest I have running on my food blog, All You Eat is Vegetables?. Submit recipes that reflect my future son’s multi-racial heritage, and you would win an Amazon gift certificate!  Check out this link for more details and look out for more contests coming in the future.

Dealing with Severe Acid Reflux

Around 10 weeks, I got some very mild heartburn. It happened maybe twice a week and would ago away easily with antacids.  I also figured out what foods triggered it pretty quickly. One of the wonderful delights in the Bay Area is garlic fries, but raw/not totally cooked garlic quickly became a no-no. Mainly because your husband will not appreciate going down to the car at 2 AM to get your Tums while staying overnight at his sister’s house.

It started to get a little worse around 20 weeks, but a few more antacids would usually do the trick. We went to my parents’ house for Christmas when I was 26 weeks. I didn’t overeat, but I ate 3 full-sized meals a day, which lead to more nights of me sitting up with horrible heartburn. My mom bought me a bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Drink one day when it was really bad. It helped tame the throat burn, but didn’t really settle my stomach. When I got back home, I started eating smaller meals, which worked great for a few weeks.

Then one night when I was 29 weeks, I woke up coughing and suddenly realized stomach acid was rising in my throat. Michael asked if I was okay, as I was quickly racing out of bed, but all I could was shake my head no. I made it to the bathroom just in time to throw up a bunch of stomach acid. It hurt so bad, I started crying instantly. Michael calmed me down, gave me antacids and soy milk, and helped me prop myself up pretty much vertical in the bed. But my stomach/throat hurt so bad, there was no way I was going back to sleep.

The next day all I could eat was plain toast for breakfast, plain ramen noodles for lunch, and a grilled cheese (vegan) for dinner. Even water upset my stomach and burned my throat. After a few days of this my stomach felt better, but I was getting more dizzy. That Friday I had doctors appointment and brought it up. She said I am probably getting more dizzy because I am not eating enough, which is not good for someone with low blood pressure. She said I could take Zantac everyday from now on. And if that doesn’t help, she will send me to a specialist.

We bought Zantac that night it started working within an hour. I ate a decent dinner that night and felt a lot better. The box says to take 2 pills every 8-12 hours as needed, but when I woke up in the morning I felt fine so I didn’t take one. Half way through work that morning, my throat/stomach were on fire again. I took another one as soon as we got home that night and the relief came back. I decided from now on, I need to just take two everyday so I can eat/drink enough and not be in pain. I have been doing that for a week now and it’s been going well. I hope this treatment sticks, I don’t want to go to a specialist.

Heartburn and acid reflux are common problems during pregnancy. Usually caused by increased hormone levels effecting your digestive system. Or, the baby could be shoving your organs out of the way to make room to grow. My brother actually permanently moved my mom’s esophagus, causing a lot of stomach problems for years to come. Since Jack is measuring big and he is growing more into my body rather than outward, I was expecting this to happen. However, I was not expecting it to this painful!

Here is my advice for anyone else experience severe acid reflux:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals of simple but more nutritious foods. I try for 6 smaller meals every 2-3 hours.  See my food blog here for meal suggestions.
  • Sleep with your head propped up above your stomach. This can be done with pillow, foam wedges, or Dr. Oz. suggests putting something under your actual mattress.
  • Try a bit of apple cider vinegar mixed with some apple juice.
  • Also try some aloe vera juice. It didn’t stop the burn, but afterwards it helped sooth/heal my stomach and throat.
  • For fast acting relief, take a few antacids. I really like Tums Smoothies, taste good and dissolve easier in your mouth.
  • If get’s really bad, ask your doctor what other medicines you can take.

Small Meal Ideas

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I mentioned in my last post that I am suffering from horrible heartburn/acid reflux right now. Guess my little son decided that my stomach was annoying and shoved it out of his way. As a result, I had to start eating 6 to 8 smaller, more simple meals to keep my stomach happy. I thought I would share the list of small meal ideas I came up. These are not only great for heartburn issues. Try them for kid’s lunches, party finger foods, and smaller meals for diets.

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked with rice milk with a 1/2 a banana mashed and 3 chopped up dates
  • Smoothie: 1/2 an avocado, splash of apple juice, handful of spinach, and 1/4 cup blackberries
  •  Burrito: 1 warmed medium flour tortilla,  1/2 an avocado, handful of kale,  handful shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter spread on a piece of whole grain toast, and half a banana
Lunch:
  • 1 cup of my Feel Better Vegetable Soup
  • My rice cheese or Soy Cheese Quesadilla , but with salsa or hot sauce
  • Half Sandwich or wrap: 1 medium tortilla or 1 slice of bread, 2 tablespoon avocado, handful of greens, half a handful of shredded carrots, and a bit of stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup of plain cooked lentils over 1/2 cup rice with a bit of kale or spinach
Dinner:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, a bit of olive oil, handful of sautee kale or spinach, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 of cup of chopped vegetable salad with a light apple cider vinegar dressing
  • 1/2 cup whole pinto beans, 1/2 cup brown rice
  • A plain Tofu Scramble—light or no spices, no tomatoes, and no onions
Snacks:
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 8 dates
  • 8 carrots and 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 small apple with 1 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 6 ounces soy or rice yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber and 1/4 cup whole wheat crackers

And remember to stay away from sugary drinks. Drink as much water as you can. Try coconut water to keep your electrolytes up.  And try some low sugar apple juice with a splash of apple cider vinegar to settle your stomach and soothe your throat.

Childbirth Class and Labor & Delivery Again

On Friday I went in for my second third trimester doctors appointment. Once again, I had lower blood pressure and a higher pulse. So my doctor decided I should go to Labor and Delivery–again–to get it checked out. Michael and I tried to say I was fine, but she insisted. She misunderstood what I was saying about feeling dizzy/faint almost everyday and thought I was having heart palpitations.

Four hours later (car crash victim came in shortly after me and I had no problem letting her go first), I was told everything was fine. Jack was prefect and I had no signs of preterm labor. My pulse was a little high, but nothing bad. And my blood pressure was lower, but not bad either. They did an EKG on me and said my heart was perfect. They gave me some juice to drink before I left, and told me to just keep my blood sugar up and relax. Dizziness is normal and as long as I am not blacking out daily, I am okay.

Even my meat-eating husband loves Veggie Grill.
Seriously go try it! source

Michael bought me a nice lunch at Veggie Grill (I am SO in love with that place, the buffalo wings and  “fish” tacos are amazing!) and then took me home to rest. We are both kind of annoyed we had to go again since we both knew Jack and I were fine, but happy to know nothing major is wrong. Just exaggerated pregnancy symptoms. At least I got yummy food 🙂

Anyways, Saturday we had an all day childbirth class. My clinic offers free classes through the counselor so I didn’t want to sign up for another class, but Michael said he wanted it. Then he was not amused when I told him the class was 9 AM to 4 PM, and the same day as Giant’s Fanfest.

The class was offered for free through my hospital and taught by an OB nurse. Not all hospital offer free classes, but most offer something so I suggest checking it out.

If you know nothing about labor and delivery, I really suggest you take any class possible. They go over stuff that is vital knowledge to ensure you deliver safely and your baby is healthy. Having a baby is scary and hard work, it’s nice to have a heads up on could/will happen. I’ll spare you from going over every boring detail, but here is some stuff I thought was really important.

  • Unless you feel something is wrong, only go to the hospital when you are in active labor. This is usually when your contractions follow the regular pattern of 4-5 minutes a part. Until then, stay at home or go about your normal day if you can.
  • If you water breaks at anytime, go immediately to the hospital. Even if your contractions are irregular and far apart.
  • When your water breaks, remember TACO: T– time it happened, A-amount that came out, C–color of the fluid, O–odor of the fluid. Remember or document this information, and tell your doctor or nurse right away.
  • Remember that as painful as contractions can be, that are only temporary and will pass. Each one increases in intensity until it reaches a peak, then tapers off.
  • Rest as much as you can in between contractions. Focus on relaxing rather than waiting for the next one.
  • During active labor, try to change positions every 30-60 minutes (unless you can’t move because you had an epidural). This will keep encouraging your body and your baby to progress.
  • Urinate as often as you can, this not only alleviates pressure but will provide your baby with more room as it drops down further.
  • Try to stay as relaxed and comfortable as possible at all times.
  • If you decide you want an epidural or a shot of narcotics for pain management, it may take awhile to actually receive it. The doctor will usually check your cervix first, then call in the order or call the anesthesiologist. Then papers need to be signed and you will need to be prepped. Keep this in mind if you are considering pain medicine.
She also had this chart of positions to try during labor. I tried to get a better picture, but the lights in the room keep causing a glare. This is the best pic I could get:

I really like the squatting and sitting positions, especially with the ball. She recommend we try these positions now, that way we can get used to them and see what we like. Some of these are yoga poses that I happen to do almost every night anyways. I really suggest everyone do Cat/Cow pose, it feels so good to stretch out your back and alleviate the pressure from your baby while your belly hangs.

We have the hospital tour, a newborn care class, and an infant CPR class in the next weeks. I am looking forward to the hospital tour the most. Even though I have been to Labor and Delivery twice now, I only went to the Triage area. I have questions about what happens when you are actually admitted. Then I will be able to finalize my birth plan too.

Anyways, here is a bump shot I took a week and half ago. Another H&M top that I am so in love with.

29 weeks.

Here are some links for more info on labor: 
Signs of Labor, American Pregnancy Association
10 Ways to Relieve Labor Pain, Fit Pregnancy
Water Breaking During Pregnancy, What to Expect
Labor Positions, Mayo Clinic

My Concerns Once Baby Arrives

Now that Jack will be coming in about 2 months, I’ve had to start getting more things ready—including myself. I knew I wanted to be a mother since I was little girl. I am naturally good with most kids and have babysat since I was about 12. I love kids so much that I considered being a neonatal or an OB/GYN nurse. I am one of those naturally maternal women, I guess.

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However, I am still terrified about having a baby sometimes. Unlike babysitting, I cannot give the baby back to its mom when something goes wrong—because I will be the mom! My husband and I will be responsible for another person for the rest our lives now. Our lives will change dramatically once he arrives too. And our family’s lives. And you never know—maybe our son will grow up and change the world! So, in a sense, the choices we make might affect EVERYTHING. How can I not be terrified sometimes?

I know things will work out and life unfolds the way it’s supposed to in the end. So I am still very excited to have a baby. These are just normal concerns that every parent has in the beginning. I wanted to read how other moms dealt with these fears, but could not find much on it. So I decided to share my concerns so some other mom can relate and relax.

How am I supposed to have a baby when
these two already think they are my babies?
Lucky girls got to come in the house that day
because it was so cold…spoiled.
  • Not knowing what to do: I just said I have good natural maternal instincts, but that doesn’t mean they are correct or will prevail every time. There is not one specific thing I am afraid I will do wrong, more like everything. The basics like nursing, bathing, dressing, sleeping, and playing. And complex things like discipline, morals, and education. Also, arbitrary things like what if his hair isn’t curly like Michael’s like I want or he isn’t interested in science like us? What can I do to calm these fears? Get educated so I can make informed decisions, first of all. I can also ask for help from my family or a professional anytime I am overwhelmed. Other than that, there is nothing much I can do besides stay calm and wait them out.
  • Postpartum Depression: I have had some depression problems in the past, and worry if I will have depression again after Jack is born. I know that some baby blues after birth is normal because rapidly changing hormones. I know all the signs and will seek out help right away if feel it is more than the normal baby blues. But I worry how it will affect my ability to be a good mother. My friend from High School recently did a post on her blog Oregon Domesticated about her experience with postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. I remember her as very bright and bubbly person. And her daughters are both beautiful. So I was shocked when I read the story, I would have never guessed it would happen to her. She is an example of how someone can look so happy but is actually struggling on the inside. I really applaud her getting help and sharing her story for other moms.
  • How My Cats Will React: Before I started dating Michael, I was pretty lonely. So what does a lonely single girl do? Get cats! They are both my babies. When I brought them from Hawaii after graduation, I had to leave them in Oregon for a year while I got settled in California. The day I left I told them the great Lilo and Stitch quote, “Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” I meant that for life. I chose to take-in these cats, and that means I need to care for them no matter what. These girls are pretty spoiled and get a lot of snuggles every day. I know this will change when Jack comes. And for awhile, they might not get much attention at all while I establish a routine. I already feel bad about that 😦 And I worry how they will treat Jack. When I bring him home, I will show him to them so they know what that weird smell/sound is, but after than I plan to keep them pretty separate for awhile for his safety (not a problem because they live in a back room not attached to the main house). They are both nice cats, but you never know how an animal will react to a new person. Let alone one that is taking all their mommy’s attention. I will just have to keep on eye on them and see how they behave. And the picture above, that is actually how I woke-up from a nap, paw on my face and all.
  • Junk Food: I mentioned in my Will Your Baby Be Vegan? post that Michael and I compromised on what the baby will eat. In order to respect each other’s wishes, the baby will be allowed to try all types of healthy foods and make his own choice when he is old enough. I know Michael respects me and if I say do not feed our child that meat/dairy today, he will comply. And I will not get upset if Michael asks if Jack can share some of his ice cream cone on occasion. But I am worried about other people feeding him things I do not want. Like either grandma giving him non-vegan cookies on a day when I want all vegan food. Then them telling me something like “It’s just a treat, I hardly ever to see him. Do not deprive me of loving my grandson!” I don’t want to fight with them over it, but I need people to respect my wishes too. I don’t want him to get used to eating junk and turn into a picky eater. My husband and his sisters were, and his mom admits that she wishes she did not cave into their demands so easily. I will not let Jack become a picky eater, but it will be harder if people undermine me all the time. There is not much I can do to stop this (other than tell the grandmas they can’t see Jack if they only feed him junk, which is very mean). I will just have to be open and direct (while still polite) with people.

Maternity Leave Plans

Two Fridays ago I met with the real OB/GYN , not just the practitioner, because I am in my third trimester now (27 weeks at the time). She said everything is fine and Jack is doing great. Then she started going over signs of preterm labor and how I need to go straight to the hospital if I something doesn’t feel right. Then I suddenly remembered that Tuesday night I woke up feeling like I REALLY had to pee. And no matter how many times I went to the bathroom, it was not go away. Jack was still moving normally and I could tell it was only urine was coming out, not amniotic fluid(urine smells like ammonia and you can stop the flow easily, amniotic fluid usually smells sweet and cannot be stopped). I was concerned, but decided not to the hospital. It went away by noontime so I was not that worried. My doctor immediately said I should always go when I feel weird pressure. Then decided I need to have an ultrasound and a cervical checked.

She asked me to have a seat in the waiting room while they squeezed me in between other patients. Forty-five minutes later and several text from my boss wondering where I was, I was called in. Jack was fine (he was in a weird position so we didn’t get a good look at his face) and I had plenty of fluid. Then they did a vaginal ultrasound for my cervix. It was long and closed, so everything was fine. She said he was probably just sitting on my bladder that day.
However, while they were checking his anatomy, I caught phrases like, “Measuring at 29 weeks”, “About plus 2 weeks” , and “Early April.” They also asked when my due date was and if it had ever been changed. I have heard thing like this all along, even at my pregnancy confirmation ultrasound. But no one had ever actually changed my due date directly. So I asked the ultrasound tech. She said that yes, he was measuring 2 weeks ahead. But an estimated due date is based on your last period plus or minus two weeks. Since he is not off by more than two weeks, they will not officially change it.
I asked the OB/GYN when she came back in. She agreed with the ultrasound tech. She said she will not officially change my due date, but unofficially I should not be surprised if he came at 38 weeks. And to not be upset if I am told I need a c-section because he is big and I am petite.

I am already getting really uncomfortable so I would not mind at all if he came reasonably early. And as much as I want to do it all naturally, I would not be upset if I had to get a c-section. I just want a healthy baby. However, my mom said they told her the same thing and she had two healthy babies vaginally that were pretty close to the actual due dates. I am pretty much her carbon copy, so if she can do it, so can I.

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This week I started thinking about all the stuff I need to do before Jack arrives, including finalizing maternity leave.When my husband got me a job at his work, I was 16 weeks already. My boss asked during the interview how much leave I would take and when I would take it. I told him I wanted all the 12 weeks Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles me to and I will try to work up to my due date. He said no problem. He also kept asking every once and awhile if my plans have changed once I was hired, just so he knows when to start training my replacement while I’m gone.

I realized that maybe it is for the best I start my maternity leave at 38 weeks instead of working until I go into labor. I am already pretty uncomfortable, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s probably for the best if I give myself a break. And if he does come early, I wont have to be faxing in my leave forms to work and my disability forms to the state with a screaming newborn in my arms. My mom is also coming to stay for a month around that time. We can finish getting everything ready and have some nice bonding time together.

I wish I was tough enough to be one of those women who works right up until her water breaks, but I am not. I need to do what is right for my baby and myself. Like I said, I totally would not mind–if he is ready–to come early. I am already over being pregnant and just want to kiss his sweet little face already.

And yes, I already thought about what to do if he comes late, when I would have used up several weeks of my 12 week maternity leave. I have Paid Time Off that my boss said I can use if I need to once my leave is up. I will just need to let him know two weeks before I want to take it.

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Before you finalize or take your maternity leave, make sure you talk to your boss and HR director. Also check out FMLA. It has some very specific wording that might disqualify you if just started your job or work for a small company. It can be confusing to figure out and you might need to think about your options for awhile if you do not qualify under FMLA. And see if your state offers disability pay for pregnancy and bonding time. California offers up to 4 weeks before birth and 6 weeks after of  disability pay for mothers. Dads get 6 weeks unpaid after the birth. Both of which are beyond awesome!

Michael is going to wait to take his until after my mom leaves and might use some PTO instead. My boss approved my leave to start the Monday I am 38 weeks. All I had to do was fill out an Absence Request Form. I see my pregnancy counselor in a few days, she will help me fill out the disability forms then. And I know that 6 weeks pay will not cover the full 12 weeks I plan to take off, so we will need to plan accordingly. That is why you should start getting this stuff in order before the baby comes!

Here are some important links to help you finalize maternity leave:.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
California Family Rights Act (CAFRA)
Maternity Leave: The Basics, Baby Center
Maternity Leave, American Pregnancy Association